SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Knights of Columbus State Convention gathered members from across the state the weekend of May 5 for presentations, camaraderie and the annual awards dinner at which various Knights were honored for their work.
The Most Rev. John C. Wester, himself a Fourth Degree Knight, told those gathered at the awards dinner that he is very grateful for all that they do. "I’m especially grateful for the priorities and for the values that you embody and that you live," he said.
During the keynote address, Supreme Director John Wainscott called on his fellow Knights to defend their faith, particularly as religious liberty is attacked by state and federal laws, such as the Department of Health and Human Services mandate that institutions provide contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, to employees in violation of the Catholic Church’s moral teaching.
"We are all Catholics. We are all Americans," Wainscott said. "We are proud to be both; grateful for the gift of faith, grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, not having to choose, but they should be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which tells us to work together for the good of all. That is the vision of our Founding Fathers, and our Constitution guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to a common life together."
A video from Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, shown earlier in the conference, called the topic of religious liberty the single most important issue facing Catholics and the Knights in the United States today, Wainscott said.
"This is a time for choosing: For choosing whether we as Catholics stand up together and keep open the doors to religious liberty," said Wainscott, who urged the Knights to ask elected officials to protect religious liberty.
During the awards ceremony, the inaugural Utah Knights of Columbus scholarships were awarded.
"This has been a dream for years and years and years, and finally it’s a reality," State Deputy Ray Lopez. "This is a way we can truly change some lives."
The scholarships were presented to Kirby Trombetti and Conner Hugget.
Award winners follow.
To Be a Patriot Award: Rev. Thomas Meersman Assembly 2577, which serves Sandy, Draper, Midvale, Riverton and Park City. The assembly donated contributions and labor to the Fisher House Salt Lake City, which provides housing for veterans and their families as they receive medical care.
Church Award: Council 14239, Riverton, which provided labor, advertisements and food sales in cooperation with the Saint Andrew Parish Women’s Society for the parish garage sale. This year saw a 57 percent increase in proceeds, despite inclement weather.
Community Award: Father Do-minguez Council 9561, Payson, which raised funds for a new 15-quart soup pot and other equipment, soup ingredients and monthly help for fellow Knight Michael Zdunich, who feeds the homeless.
Council Award: Bishop Hunt Council 5214, Kearns, which holds a weekly Bingo to help pay off the parish mortgage, providing an average of $5,000 per month.
Family Award: Mother Teresa of Calcutta Council 12181, Draper, for their Christmas Tamales project, which raised funds to help relocate a woman who was in an abusive relationship and helped another woman who lost her husband.
Pro Life Award: Father Joseph Valine Council 11246, Cedar City, which partnered with two doctors to provide ultrasound machines and services to pregnant women to let them see their child and choose to give birth rather than have an abortion.
Youth Award: Bishop Joseph Lennox Federal Council 14399, South Ogden, for their Coats for Kids program that provided coats for 100 children.
Family of the Year: Rayfel and Lisa Bacheller, Saint Thomas Moore Council 11479, Sandy
Knight of the Year: David Matyjasik, Saint Martin de Porres Council 10304, Taylorsville
During the convention, the Knights also elected new officers, whose terms begin July 1:
State Deputy: Robert Masse Jr.
State Secretary: Jerald Hanten
State Treasurer: Andrew Airriess
State Advocate: Rick Kump
State Warden: Gregory Keller